We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Tuesday, April 29. 2014
"Conrad Martens, an official artist on the second voyage, did this drawing of the Beagle laid ashore at the mouth of the river Santa Cruz in Southern Argentina. When repairs to the hull were necessary after the ship had struck a rock, the ship was beached and the work was performed between high tides." Image courtesy of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University
The story of HMS Beagle (1820-1870) - an ordinary ship. Not about Darwin, about the life of a 19th C. ship.
Monday, April 28. 2014
Monday, April 7. 2014
Sunday, March 30. 2014
Reposted from 2012 -
I am studying up as I gradually learn about the places I am scheduled (by my tour planner, Mrs. BD) to visit over the next couple of weeks. I regret that our contributor, Roger de Hauteville, King of Sicily, cannot accompany us because I am sure he would have some good historical reminiscences from the time of his reign.
The Mediterranean world went through some or most of these cultural phases (or empires) which you can mix and match according to location:
Sicily experienced pretty much every bit of that sequence, which is how the Norman Roger de Hauteville became King of Sicily.
Best as I can tell thus far (I have a pile of books I am getting through), Sicily's high point was around 200 BC when it was still a Greek culture (Syracuse was considered the finest city in Magna Graecia), when the Syracusan Archimedes was busy discovering and inventing things in the old Greek way.
It's been downhill for Sicily since the kingdoms were abolished in the 1860s during the unification of Italy as a nation. But never unified, really. The "maffia" filled the power vacuum, and today they basically run the island. (Most people in Sicily speak Sicilian, if not Italian also. "Maffioso" is Sicilian for an entrepreneurial braggart or bully. It has been estimated that 80% of Sicily's businesses pay protection money to the Mafia, and Sicily's main exports are oranges, lemons, population (impossible to build a new biz there due to the mob "tax", so energetic people leave for the US and northern Italy and Europe) - and organized crime.
Despite their Greek history (genetically, Sicilians are a mix of European, Greek, and African), most Europeans to the north (which is all of them) look down on them just as the Romans look down on the Neapolitans, and the Italian Swiss look down on Romans - and even the Tuscans.
It's a lovely island, with around a 5 million population. The rural areas, the active volcanoes, and the well-preserved Greek ruins are the main attractions, and I plan to explore them.
Photo: Mount Etna -
Friday, March 14. 2014
This breakdown of what may likely be the real story surrounding Archimedes' discovery of the measurement of volume is actually more interesting, though less entertaining, than the original. The site isn't too bad, either, even if it does have a slight pro-AGW slant to some of the articles.
Sunday, March 9. 2014
Thursday, January 30. 2014
Thursday, January 16. 2014
Saturday, January 4. 2014
Please take note of the US Naval Institute/ABC TV new series, The Asset. It is the story of US traitor Aldrich Ames. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aldrich_Ames
Sorry it is Thursdays at 10, but kudos to ABC for showing it at all. Please don’t miss an episode!
Monday, December 23. 2013
This was written by a former POW in Hanoi, Mike Benge. To know more of his astonishing survival, read his POW bio.
Every one of our servicemembers must know that we will never forget nor abandon them. The punks in the Obama administration are the only ones who deserve to be abandoned. Their cowardly perfidy will not be forgotten.
Christmas Lights over
Thursday, November 28. 2013
Friday, November 22. 2013
Tuesday, November 19. 2013
Thanks to Myron Magnet for this excellent article on Tom Paine.
I suspect that most of my ancestors were Tories, but so were most Americans at the time. A dramatic rebellion, nonetheless, with the American Constitution as its crowning jewel.
Monday, November 18. 2013
I try not to post about political matters and to try to stick to my portfolio here, but this is something for all to remember: Lee Harvey Oswald was a communist who idolized Castro and hated America.
He killed JFK because JFK was an anti-Commie. I think the Bay of Pigs pushed him over the edge.
Saturday, September 7. 2013
The world is not a hellhole of escalating violence – you are living in the most peaceful era in our species’ existence, says Steven Pinker.
Saturday, August 31. 2013
Accountants know who he was. He was a pal of Leonardo, and the inventor of double-entry bookkeeping.
He wrote treatises on chess, math, and other things too. Imagine what sort of website he could have had, had he only invented the intertunnels too. Everybody knows that Sippican invented the intertunnels.
Double entry sounds like tax cheating, but it is not. It is about credits and debits. (It does not refer to the private, personal books for cash receipts that many unscupulous Lefties use to dodge Uncle Sam and rip off their neighbors.)
Image is Luca Pacioli, b. c. 1445.
Tuesday, August 27. 2013
Via Ace of Spades:
The oldest prominent participant in the (American) Revolution, by a wide margin, was Benjamin Franklin, who was 70 years old on July 4, 1776. Franklin was a full two generations removed from the likes of Madison and Hamilton. But the oldest participant in the war was Samuel Whittemore, who fought in an early skirmish at the age of 80:
Thursday, July 4. 2013
"To champion the nation's founding principles is to commit to a downsizing of government the likes of which can barely be imagined, in today's climate. Who in America is prepared to handle the whole truth and nothing but . . . or commit to so radical a cause? Who on talk radio would dare hint of mounting a righteous crusade of abolition against the welfare principle, as such? Which Tea Party candidate will run for office pledging to slash his constituents' benefits and put the civil servants in his district or state out to pasture?"
Related, from Judge Napolitano: How can we celebrate the degradation of liberty?
Related: Seventy-one percent of Americans think the signers of the Declaration of Independence would be disappointed by the way the United States has turned out, a Gallup survey released Thursday shows.
I deliberately did not write 'Independence Day'. As I'm sure many Maggie's readers are aware, technically the Fourth of July is not Independence Day. Legally, the day of separation was the Second of July (am I being cynical when I wonder why New York abstained?), which John Adams mentions in his letter to Abigail, regarding the importance of the day the Continental Congress voted to commit treason.
It's intriguing that Adams was so sure of the importance of the day. He knew they would not sign a document and that would be the end of any disagreement. It would be seven more years before independence was assured, during which every signer would face potential death for committing treason. One signer actually recanted after he was captured, imprisoned and treated miserably. Sad to say he comes from my home state of New Jersey. We did name a college after him, and it's worth noting he returned to the fold when he was released. He knew, like every other man signing the document, that this idea was bigger than himself. Possibly one of the greatest ideas in governance ever before conceived.
Despite the risks, Adams' statement of optimism regarding the Congress' decision was well-founded. He, and all the others, realized the power of ideas and the power of the individual. Today isn't a day for the government these men eventually founded, it's a day of us, the individuals which these men entrusted with the liberty they knew would free us to succeed and progress.
Sunday, June 30. 2013
If, coulda, woulda, shoulda about history may not change it but does change our understanding of what happened and why. The two gravest mistakes the US made in Vietnam were to participate in, even bless, the overthrow of President Diem and then to not use our overwhelming force to bring North Vietnam to its knees.
The overthrow of Diem in 1963 upended the South Vietnamese pacification efforts and disrupted the organization of the professional army, requiring the large-scale US involvement. The failure to then use our massive force, especially in the air on North Vietnamese strategic targets instead of sending multi-million dollar planes against cheap trucks, allowed the North to extend its reach and prolong the war.
Mark Moyars wrote the book "Triumph Forsaken: The Vietnam War, 1954-1965." It details how Diem's efforts were succeeding and were destroyed by the coup. In the June 29 Wall Street Journal (behind the paywall) Moyar reviews three other recent books that come to the same conclusion. Wise guys in Washington should not be in such a hurry to think they can superimpose their ideal of Western democracy where the foundations have not been laid and in the midst of war requiring unified stern measures.
Of historical note is, not only in 1964-5 the failure to bring to bear the Joint Chiefs' recommendations for strategic targeting of the North, but how in 1970 there was a similar failure of will in Washington. As President Nixon showed in 1972 by launching such a ferocious air attack on Hanoi and Haiphong, the war could have been shortened and many thousands of lives saved. Rear Admiral Joe Vasey was right hand man to Admiral John McCain Jr, Commander-In-Chief Pacific Command during 1968-1972. In an exclusive to this blog, for historical record, Joe Vasey has agreed to publish the below "after inaction" report on what could have been in 1970. (My apologies for the spacing below, due to copying-pasting from an email.)
Continue reading "What could have beens in Vietnam"
Thursday, June 20. 2013
Came home from a busy and exertional family day last weekend to notice some of Mrs. BD's Digitalis in glorious bloom.
Whenever I see Digitalis - Foxglove - in bloom I remember "the Shropshire Crone," renowned in medical history for promoting the use of it for "dropsy" - congestive heart failure. The astute and open-minded Dr. William Withering took notice and got all of the credit - hence the continued use of Digitalis for heart failure. Many people we see walking around would be either dead or bed-ridden without this herbal treatment. Digitalis increases the contractility of the failing heart, but in higher doses it kills you.
Digitalis is a biennial, and self-sows generously when in a happy spot - half-day sun, rich soil. That is Nepeta in bloom in the foreground, and the low-growing Little Lamb's Ear Hydrangea on the left, which will bloom white in late summer.
Up here in the land of snow, we treasure our gardens especially because our growing season is so darn short. Our plants have to know how to carpe diem even if we do not. We try to learn from them. Winter is coming.
Monday, June 17. 2013
Thursday, June 6. 2013
Not only did we never fight for this sort of stuff, our country has consistently fought against it from the very beginning. America has an illness, and the illness is amoral central power. It is nauseating to think that the NSA and the IRS are using our tax dollars to scrutinize us. It's sick, and inspires rebellious emotions. Safety is no excuse.
On a related topic, in the planning for D Day the weather, sea conditions, moonlight, and tides were crucial to Eisenhower's planning staff. What was the weather like during D-Day?
I am reading a wonderful historical fiction book by the brilliant Giles Foden about the meteorologists, physicists, and math geniuses involved in the weather predictions for D Day: Turbulence: A novel.
As it turned out, the weather was lousy and the sea state unwelcoming, and thus the German defenders of France were not expecting a visit.
Sunday, June 2. 2013
Tuesday, April 16. 2013
The complete History's Mysteries series is here.
Before I'm accused of committing the first anti-Semitic Google Earth hate crime in history, a few things might be pointed out:
1. From this page:
I'd note the 'still in use today' line, which at least explains the current buildings in Asia. As for the others, they probably figured no one would ever notice, they didn't wish to bow to convention, or they simply couldn't afford to raze and rebuild the whole goddamn building just because the local Jewish Aviators Club got its knickers in a knot.
Continue reading "History's Mysteries: The Swastika"